My first ever triathlon cross (mountain biking and running off road) was three weeks ago in Salobreña, in Granada, Spain. The bike course was so rough, lots of deep gravel where we sank having to come off the bike several times. I did not complete the second loop of the bike course. With my head down I became determined to participate in the next race Almuñecar, which took place yesterday – the writeup read “mountain bike course of medium difficulty”. The town of Almuñecar is located in the province of Granada and is a very nice seafront town with ancient history going back to Phoenician seafarers and Arab invaders. We had the swim in a clear sea with no jellyfish (medusas) so I really enjoyed that. So with great expectations and somewhat relieved I mounted my bike and rode out. But it wasn’t long before climbing started to show a sample of what was to be the hardest MTB riding I have ever done. The distance to cover in one loop was just 22 km and we all climbed 2,417 meters mostly in the first half of this bike course – the views were fantastic. There were long ramps of 18 to 24% and that’s when I realized that these types of events here in Spain are in a class of their own; I was lucky to get to the transition before the cut-off time. The foot race of 6km? My luck didn’t change, 80% of it was uphill with some parts literally scrambling up narrow paths with rocks and bushes, or running on soft sand along parts of the beach. I am left with the realization that triathlon cross, at least here in Andalucía, although done over short distances, is tough and one must prepare differently for these races. Unlike long distance races this mode of racing is explosive, technical and scary. However, I am already thinking to do them again next year. Ah, I forgot to mention that I was very, very lucky to classify 3rd in my age group.